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A Day at Kayu Aro Tea Plantation

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4 November 2015 08:30 WIB

TEMPO.CO, Kerinci - The Kayu Aro tea plantation in Kerinci Regency, Jambi Province, is among Indonesia’s oldest tea plantations. It was first established by a Dutch company Namlodee Venotchaat Handle Verininging Amsterdam (NV HVA) in 1925. Pine trees are lining up along the Emplasmen street nearby the Kayu Aro tea factory, as if it is guarding the green carpet of tea trees stretches before my eyes.

Besides the old factory lies a lushly flower garden, fertilized with low-quality tea which has been rejected by the factory. I was still drowned in the beauty of aster and daffodils when I heard a siren wailing from the factory. It was a sign that workers should go back to work.

My childhood friend Ereska happens to be the plantation’s manager, so I did not miss the opportunity to visit and have a tour around the site. In a gazebo in front of the factory, we talked about the condition of this tea farm.

Ereska said that the plantation’s future is now at stake due to constant low price of the tea. Last year, the state-owned site decided to replace part of the tea trees with arabica coffee trees. The world’s largest tea plantation will soon reduced its size to give space to one thousand hectares of coffee plants.

The thought of the tea farm going bankrupt annoyed me. I took a walk into the factory to keep the thought away. The typical aroma of wet tea leaves pervaded from the facilities. I followed step by step of the tea-making process.

The tea leaves are first heated to make them wilt before being conveyed to milling machine where they are milled into fine, moist green granules that look like moss. Next process is the fermentation process, which is leaving the milled tea leaves in a low temperature room. Lastly, the tea is dried or ‘fried’ until its color darkened.

The first-grade tea are separated and packed for export while the lower grades are sold in local market under ‘Teh Kajoe Aroe’ brand. This brand is mostly found in Jambi and West Sumatra.

The last stop of my tea tour was at the quality test room, where female workers observe the tea every hour. The workers, known as the ‘testers’, would use their sight, taste and smell senses in the process.

In this room, I was served a first-grade tea. It had been a long time since I gulped my last first-grade tea. The taste of the tea was unquestionably palatable. Besides, I have been a fan of this kind of tea for long time.

Ereska revealed a plan to build Tea Corner beside the factory. People would be able to sip the first-grade Kayu Aro tea in this corner. This must be a good news for tea lovers since they have so far could not taste Kayu Aro’s flagship tea.

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